The Perfect 2020 Job Candidate: What to Look For

When looking for the perfect 2020 candidate, we’re not talking about the president—we’re talking about a new hire for your company to take your business to the next level. 2020 is a year unlike any other. With the coronavirus pandemic causing businesses to rethink the workplace, switch to remote work, or close their doors altogether, the job market is in a much different state than years past. On top of that, the unemployment rate is the highest it’s ever been since the Great Depression. With hungry professionals looking for work, you’re most likely going to be receiving more applications for your job postings.

So, with all these applications, how do you decide who the best candidate is? Throughout this post, we’re going to go over what to look for in a potential candidate in 2020.

1. Flexibility

So far, 2020 has uprooted traditional workplace norms and forced workers and employers across the world to make adaptations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 while still operating at full capacity. This shift has forced employees and employers to be innovative, creative, and, most importantly, flexible.

As you begin to interview candidates, ask questions regarding their ability to be flexible. For example, can they pivot between tasks at a moment’s notice? Can they pick up the slack for a coworker who may be sick or experiencing a personal dilemma? Can they manage an increased workload while working from home to accommodate the needs of a client? These are just some of the reasons why flexibility is important. During these tumultuous times, you need to be able to manage a virtual team with employees who can move in any direction to help your company succeed.

2. Industry knowledge

Knowing how to do the job, and how to do it well is imperative. Bringing on a new hire who isn’t equipped with the knowledge to get the job done can cost you a lot of time and money getting them up to speed. Taking your time to find qualified candidates means they can hit the ground running from day one. For example, if you’re looking for an accountant, you want one who is well-versed in various accounting practices, such as bookkeeping, keeping balance sheets up to date, complying with the IRS, paying back taxes, and so forth.

However, it’s also important to keep an open mind when it comes to hiring a new candidate. Just because an applicant is fresh out of college doesn’t mean they don’t have what it takes to get the job done. In most cases, recent graduates are ambitious, up-to-date with the latest industry trends, and willing to learn.

3. Communication

Communication is key for 2020. With many businesses forced to telecommute to maintain social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus, employees need to get used to working from home while still being cooperative. Not only should you ask questions regarding communication skills during an interview, but you should also pay attention to how candidates communicate with you during the hiring process. Are they responding to emails and calls in a timely manner? Are they professional when they communicate? Do they know how to use a variety of technological platforms, such as email, Zoom, Skype, and so forth?

In order for your company to run like a well-oiled machine, your employees need to know how to interact virtually with one another. This can be difficult when we, as humans, need human connections and interactions. However, we must be able to adapt and stay in touch to produce ground-breaking work. Make sure candidates have experience with communication platforms like Slack, Asana, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Google play marketing Suite.

4. Skills

Similar to industry knowledge, candidates also need the right skills in order to be hired. Many employers are now asking for candidates to exhibit their skills during the hiring process, which is a great way to judge whether or not they have what it takes to get the job done. For example, if you’re looking for content creators for your digital marketing company, ask the candidate to partake in a timed writing session where they’re required to write a short piece about a certain topic. Or, if you’re a software engineering company, ask a candidate to exhibit their coding skills.

There are plenty of ways you can be creative and have candidates display their skills. However, it’s important candidates are compensated for their hard work. The last thing you want is to show you don’t value their time and effort, or take their work for free. Compensating applicants for their skills test will show them you care about and value your employees.

5. Long-term potential

Low retention rates is never a good sign for a company. If your business has a high turnover of employees, it can cost you a lot of time and money training and onboarding new staff. One way to prevent low retention rates is by hiring candidates with long-term potential. This means asking them important questions, such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What do you look for in a company?
  • Describe your ideal company culture?
  • What skills and knowledge can you bring to this position?

Asking questions like these can help you get a better sense of where they see themselves in the future, and whether they’re looking for a temporary position until they find another job, or if they’re ready to commit for the long haul.

Make sure to look at red flags when recruiting. If you notice a candidate has multiple jobs on their resume with only a few months of employment at each, it can be a sign they’re hopping around from place to place. You should also look for candidates with a proven track record of success, and let them speak about their various career goals.

Finding the perfect candidate in 2020

Recruiting the right candidate can be a long and drawn-out process. However, it’s crucial to take your time to ensure you make the right choice. When you begin looking at applications, resumes, and cover letters, along with hosting interviews, it’s important to look for certain qualities in each candidate. With this list of five things to look for in a candidate, you’ll be one step closer to finding a new hire who is committed to your company’s success.

Samantha Rupp

Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.

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